March 21, 1987: Actor Robert Preston dies

Hollywood star, who made a caeer of playing the fast-talking band instrument salesman in the stage and screen versions of The Music Man, succumbs to lung cancer

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Gulf News

Robert Preston, who made a career of playing the fast-talking band instrument salesman in the stage and screen versions of The Music Man, died at the age of 68. Friends of the actor said Preston had been suffering from lung cancer for a long time. He entered Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital two days ago and died peacefully, supervisor Elifa Statzer said. He was best known as The Music Man, in which he starred on Broadway for two years. Born Robert Maservy on June 8, 1918, in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, Preston grew up in Los Angeles and was signed by Paramount Studios when he was 19 after he appeared in a string of local stage productions. He starred in three forgettable films, King of Alcatraz, Disbarred and Illegal Traffic, before winning recognition by playing opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Union Pacific in 1939. Married first to actress Kay Felton and then to actress Catherine Craig, Preston said he had one rule for actors: “You are a blessed man if you are working and doing things you like.”

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